By James Ramos
KINGWOOD, Texas (CNS) — Nearly 500 Catholics from 59 parishes across the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston were confirmed in early January during four bilingual Masses, signaling the culmination of months of catechesis and effort.
Accompanying them were their sponsors who helped guide them in the process, at their parishes and in their lives.
Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo and Auxiliary Bishop Italo Dell’Oro anointed the foreheads of the confirmation candidates with holy chrism in an intimate one-on-one moment between a Catholic and his or her bishop.
“Be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit,” Cardinal DiNardo said, leaning forward to greet a bespectacled man in a green long-sleeve shirt while anointing him.
A few moments later, he repeated this in Spanish: “Recibe por esta señal el Don del Espíritu Santo,” lifting his thumb to anoint a smiling woman dressed in white.
Each of the candidates had a sponsor standing behind them, with their right hand on the candidate’s shoulder, in support of presence and prayer.
Cardinal DiNardo and Bishop Dell’Oro celebrated four separate Masses Jan. 9, the feast of the Baptism of the Lord, at the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Houston, St. Ignatius of Loyola Catholic Church in Spring, St. Angela Merici Catholic Church in Missouri City and St. Martha Catholic Church in Kingwood.
At the Mass, the bishop recites a prayer that invokes God the Father for an “outpouring of the Holy Spirit,” according to the U.S. Catholic Catechism for Adults published by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
The bishop extends both of his hands over all those to be confirmed, a sign of continuity of the New Testament custom of laying hands on those who would receive the gift of the Spirit.
The seven gifts traditionally associated with the Spirit are inspired by Isaiah 11:1-3 and include: wisdom, understanding, knowledge, counsel, fortitude, piety or reverence, and fear of the Lord, also known as wonder and awe.
The archdiocesan Masses also included a renewal of baptismal promises, showing the connection between confirmation and baptism. Confirmation, like baptism, is only given once since it also “imprints on the soul an indelible spiritual mark.”
In a May 2018 general audience, Pope Francis continued his series of catechetical messages on the sacrament of confirmation.
“Just as Jesus received the outpouring of the Spirit at his baptism in order to carry out his messianic mission, the church prays that we too may receive the gifts and fruits of the Spirit that enable us to help the body of Christ grow in unity and missionary zeal,” he said. “The gift of the Spirit is communicated through the laying on of hands and anointing with sacred chrism.”
The pope prayed for those receiving the sacrament of confirmation and said: “Sealed with the Holy Spirit, we are configured more closely to Christ and strengthened to bear witness to him in our world. May each of us grow in gratitude for the gift received at our confirmation and open our hearts ever more fully to the creativity of the Spirit who makes all things new.”
Ramos is a staff writer and designer for the Texas Catholic Herald, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston.